After a long NBA Season, one would think it’s time to settle down, relax, and take a step back until the new season begins. Well, that would be the wrong move. The NBA offseason, and specifically three-four weeks following the completion of the NBA Finals is perhaps the most electric period in the NBA calendar year. It all begins with the NBA Draft, where months of scouting, interviewing, and planning all comes to fruition in a four to five hour window. The best prospects out of College and Overseas find out where they’ll spend the next chapter of their story, and perhaps others will find out they’ve been traded, and will too begin a new chapter. This year, we decided to put together an NBA Mock Draft for a little offseason fun! So, let’s see who your team may be drafting on Thursday!
#1: Pelicans: Zion Williamson, Duke PF
- This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The Pelicans just traded their star big in Anthony Davis for a boat load of assets, and while some may believe they should have stuck with AD who plans to walk to play with Zion, they’ll now look to the future and rather build around Zion.
#2: Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Murray St PG
- Ja Morant may be the most explosive player in this draft. He has unbelievable athleticism and has drawn comparisons to Dennis Smith Jr, but his court vision and playmaking ability is more Russell Westbrook. The Grizzlies didn’t win the Draft Lottery, but they damn sure got themselves an unbelievable consolation prize. For a team looking to move Mike Conley, they have their heir apparent to Conley, and an exciting one to pair with Jaren Jackson Jr for years to come.
#3: Knicks: RJ Barrett, Duke SG/SF
- First of all, we have to discuss the giant elephant in the room. The Knicks are cursed. This huge plan to tank, while virtually giving Kristaps Porzingis away in the process, win the Lottery, draft Zion, and then recruit KD and Kyrie to come with Zion has flatlined and they very well may strike out on all three. Fortunately, they’re going to get a great player in RJ Barrett who would very likely be the top pick in most other classes. In fact, if not for a PG needy team drafting directly ahead of New York, he’d likely be going second. Barrett has all the tools to be an excellent NBA player, but the drop-off in his perimeter game during his year at Duke was a little worrisome. His ball-handling needs improvement as well, but that will come with experience at the NBA level. The Knicks have a good one here to build around.
#4: Hawks (Via Pelicans via Lakers): DeAndre Hunter, Virginia SF/PF
- TRADE! I have a feeling the Pelicans look to trade down for additional assets via the Anthony Davis trade. The Hawks make the most sense for a trade up, having gained another 1st Round Pick via the Nets trade, and have been rumored to be interested in a trade up. Hunter would offer similar freakish athleticism as John Collins, and provide versatility to play either the three or four. Dewayne Dedmon is not in their future plans, so a future frontcourt of Hunter/Collins would be quite something with Trae Young running the offense. Hunter proved he has a perimeter game this season, but needs to be more aggressive as an offensive player to truly flourish at this level.
#5: Cavaliers: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech SG
- The Cavs were royally screwed by the new Lottery rules, but they’ll have to deal with the hand they were dealt. A year removed from taking Collin Sexton, it seems highly unlikely they go PG, especially with Jordan Clarkson still in the fold. They seem keen about holding onto Kevin Love throughout their rebuild, and Larry Nance has developed nicely. Culver has a really good offensive game that with further development can really be something special, and give the Cavs quite an offensive attack in their backcourt with Sexton.
#6: Suns: Coby White, UNC PG
- Regardless of Phoenix’s plans this offseason, which could result in D’Angelo Russell being their Starting PG on Opening Night, the Suns need to go PG in this draft. It’s far too early to call the DeAndre Ayton pick a year ago a mistake, but the decision to not go Luka Doncic will be a debate for decades, and they really struggled to find a sustainable PG yet again all season. While Devin Booker can play that role, it really limits the rest of their offense. Coby White really flourished at UNC this season, surpassing Nassir Little who was the better prospect coming out of High School, and earning himself recognition as a Top 10 Pick in this class. White may be the quickest player with the ball in this Draft, with an above average offensive game, good passing skills, and is generally difficult to defend. The weakness is ball security.
#7: Bulls: Darius Garland, Vanderbilt PG
- Kris Dunn is not the answer at Point Guard for the Bulls. They’re really set within their starting group everywhere else between Zach Lavine, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendall Carter Jr. Garland really could go as high as fourth, so this would not only fill Chicago’s biggest need, but be the best player on the board.
#8: Pelicans (Via Hawks): Cameron Reddish, Duke SG/SF
- TRADE! This pick comes from the Hawks along with #17 for the #4 Pick the Pelicans acquired in the Anthony Davis Trade. The Pelicans very well could hold ground at 4 and take Reddish, to give Zion one of his Duke teammates. At the very worst case scenario if Reddish comes off the board, they would be settling on one of DeAndre Hunter and Jarrett Culver who will absolutely be available at 8 with two PG needy teams drafting 5th-7th. Without a downer of a year at Duke, Reddish is probably the consensus 4th Pick, and his ceiling is perhaps as high as RJ Barrett’s.
#9: Wizards: Sekou Doumbouya, France SF/PF
- Despite John Wall dealing with a number of issues, the Wizards aren’t going Point Guard here, nor are one of the Top 3 PG’s in this class falling into their lap. With Jabari Parker hitting Free Agency, they’ll want to go wing here and getting someone with a relatively high ceiling in Doumbouya who will need time to develop/learn his game will fit into the timeline the Wiz likely project they can once again compete around John Wall.
#10: Hawks (Via Mavericks): Nassir Little, UNC SF
- Before the season, Little was a Top 5 pick. He never found a solidified role on a UNC team that had a ton of depth. As a result, Little hardly had a chance to show off his game. There’s a pretty low floor here however as he’s not a great perimeter shooter, nor did he exhibit much dribble and drive ability. Freshmen do struggle under Roy Williams, so these aren’t red flags quite yet, but he has a ways to go before reaching his ceiling. This is the right system for him, however.
#11: Timberwolves: Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga SF/PF
- It’s hard to project the Wolves here because they really don’t have a specific need. Dario Saric is a RFA at the end of next season, and I don’t think he’s in their future plans, although Ryan Saunders seemed more inclined to establish a role for Saric than Thibs did. Hachimura can defend both the three and four, and while he fits better as a three, he can play a stretch four offensively.
#12: Hornets: PJ Washington, Kentucky PF
- If the Hornets are looking for someone that can fill Marvin Williams’ role for years to come once his contract expires at the end of next season, PJ Washington is their guy. He really improved his perimeter game last season, to go with a solid post game. If he can improve his off ball defense, he could be a suitable two-way player ala Marvin Williams
#13: Heat: Jaxson Hayes, Texas PF/C
- It’s a strange spot for the Heat. I think they would like to go PG here, but it would be quite a reach to grab one here. With Dragic returning, they could wait another year before grabbing their future PG. They are more likely to grab a big with a wealth of depth on the wings, and Hassan Whiteside out of their future plans. Hayes has a chance to go Top 10 in this draft, but a Pelicans trade down may impact him more than anyone. Hayes’ floor would probably be what they have now in Whiteside, but the hope is that he can develop his offensive game beyond the paint and stretch the floor. Don’t be shocked to see the Heat trade down if they’re not in love with anyone in this spot, though.
#14: Celtics (Via Kings): Tyler Herro, Kentucky SG
- UPDATE: Herro had an excellent season at Kentucky, and would provide the Celtics with much needed perimeter help. With Kyrie, Horford, and Rozier all likely leaving, Herro will be the first of a potential trio of 1st Round Picks to add to a new era in Boston.
#15: Pistons: Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State C
- UPDATE: With the Pistons bringing in Tony Snell via trade, they’ll be looking to go big with their now first of two 1st Round Picks. Kabengele is still a bit raw, but it’ll give them a chance to be patient with Andre Drummond still on the roster, as well as time to reassess whether or not Drummond remains long term.
#16: Magic: Nickeil Alexander Walker, Virginia Tech SG
- While Orlando is likely losing Nikola Vucevic to Free Agency, they have Mo Bamba, so it seems unlikely they’ll go big. They need some wing help and overall depth, as Evan Fournier and Jonathan Issac both seem lost in stretches throughout the season. Alexander Walker could be more of a combo guard though. That’s quite perfect for their needs considering they are still rolling out DJ Augustin at PG.
#17: Pelicans (Via Hawks via Nets): KZ Okpala, Stanford SG/SF
- TRADE! (UPDATE): ESPN’s Marc Spears reported late on the Eve of Draft Night that the Pelicans had worked out Okpala in case they trade down. Well, rather than reach for Bruno Fernando, they can get their guy here. Okpala will be another addition on the wing to join Cam Reddish and Brandon Ingram. Expectation should be Lonzo Ball continuing his career somewhere other than NOLA (Perhaps Chicago if a PG doesn’t fall in their lap?), so Jrue won’t clog the wings, but rather maintain his role as Starting PG. Okpala really does everything well, but will need to show better consistency as an outside shooter to establish a legitimate rotational role.
#18: Pacers: Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga PF
- Thad Young is likely leaving in Free Agency, and while the Pacers have TJ Leaf, he hasn’t quite shown the development they probably would have liked to see two years removed from taking him #18 in 2017. Clarke offers much of the same Thad Young gave the Pacers the last few seasons, and is similarly sized.
#19: Spurs: Goga Bitadze, Republic of Georgia C
- I absolutely love Goga in this draft, and think he may well end up being one of the Top 5 players in the class when it’s all said and done. This is such a Spurs pick and he should fall right into their lap. His size/body-type reminds me a lot of JoVal, Jokic, and KAT. He’s not the passer guys like Jokic and Nurkic, but that can be worked on. He does have a jumper, and can step out beyond the perimeter. With Pau gone, Jakob Poeltl being a bust acquisition, and LaMarcus Aldridge holding two years remaining on his deal, the Spurs could use another big, and Goga will be a bit of a project.
#20: Celtics (Via Clippers): Bol Bol, Oregon C
- UPDATE: Same destination for Bol Bol, but six picks later. Al Horford is likely leaving Boston, so they need some help on the interior. Bol Bol was a consensus Top 10, if not Top 5 pick without the injury, so this would be a tremendous get for the Celtics at a position they probably weren’t expecting they’d need some immediate help a week ago.
#21: Thunder: Keldon Johnson, Kentucky SG/SF
- While Andre Roberson will return and presumably start at the two, the Thunder desperately need some perimeter scoring on the wing. Keldon Johnson isn’t quite there consistently, but he’s a definite upgrade from the likes of Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo.
#22: Celtics: Ty Jerome, Virginia PG
- With Kyrie bolting in Free Agency, and Terry Rozier a RFA, the Celtics will need a Plan B in case they ultimately choose not to match Rozier’s Offer Sheet.
#23: Grizzlies (Via Jazz): Darius Bazley, SF/PF
- UPDATE: This pick now belongs to the Grizzlies as part of the Mike Conley trade. The Grizz also acquired Grayson Allen and Jae Crowder, and will also be taking Ja Morant #2, so where does this leave them at #23? They also acquired Utah’s 1st Round Pick in 2020, so they could get a little risky here. Darius Bazley had one of the better ceilings in this class, but a lot is unknown with him after de-committing from Syracuse, to play in the G-League, and then decided to sit out all together. He has scoring ability all over the floor, defends well, and is only getting better. Having not played a year in College or at least Professionally before entering the draft has seemingly hurt his stock, but this is a legit prospect with the tools he possesses and would be a steal for the Grizz.
#24: 76ers: Chuma Okeke, Auburn SF/PF
- I bet the Sixers wish the Draft came after Free Agency this year, because their roster construction of course hinges on what happens with Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Had it not been for the ACL Tear during the NCAA Tournament, Okeke may have been a Lottery Pick. Would give the Sixers excellent insurance in case they lose Harris in Free Agency, as Okeke offers a similar skillset.
#25: Trail Blazers: Bruno Fernando, Maryland C
- UPDATE: For the same reasons I originally had Kabengele going to Portland, it’s just now Bruno Fernando as the best big on the board. With Nurkic’s future uncertain, Portland will need the big.
#26: Cavaliers (Via Rockets): Kevin Porter, USC SG/SF
- UPDATE: The Cavs should use this pick as an upside play. Porter really just needs to be better with the ball. He has elite scoring ability, but he’ll chuck, he’ll turn the ball over, and he’ll force the ball into traffic. This would add to a really interesting core of backcourt players in Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, and Jarrett Culver.
#27: Nets (Via Nuggets): Luka Samanic, Croatia PF/C
- The Nets are a little impossible to predict here. They’ve already traded away their own 1st Round Pick in what was an effort to clear Cap Space for a 2nd Max Slot. They also own the 31st Pick (#1 in 2nd Round), so they may be able to move back up around the 18th-22nd range if someone they love, slides. They’re also looking to sign those Two Max FA’s, so finding a couple depth options in the Late 1st/Early 2nd may be the more feasible plan. Samanic played Pro Ball in the Slovenian League last year, and had a terrific Combine. He’s drawn comparisons to Nikola Mirotic, and I see a little bit Dario Saric in him. The Nets could be forced to relinquish rights to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and also have Jared Dudley and Demarre Carroll potentially leaving as FA’s. Samanic could step in immediately for them, but with Rodians Kurucs around, they have the luxury of giving Samanic time to develop.
#28: Warriors: Cameron Johnson, UNC SF/PF
- The Warriors are going to have to go with the most NBA ready player on the board, because they need a lot of help at the moment. Regardless of what happens in Free Agency with KD and Klay Thompson, they will be without both for the entirety of next season. Cameron Johnson had a tremendous Senior Year at UNC, shooting 46% beyond the perimeter. He’s a Red Shirt Senior as well so he’s a bit older than a majority of the players in this class, but that’s really what the Warriors should be looking for here. His elite shooting is attractive for how the team is built, and he’s coming off his best defensive year as a collegiate athlete. At UNC, he reminded me a lot of Harrison Barnes, and the Warriors who could lose KD all together, could really use a Harrison Barnes like player as they look to revert back to the Pre KD Era. If Cam Johnson goes earlier than this spot, look for the Warriors to pivot to Dylan Windler, who can offer them a similar role.
#29: Spurs (Via Raptors): Dylan Windler, Belmont SG
- Marco Belinelli is a Free Agent after next season, and Windler could fill in that much needed role should he ultimately leave. He’s someone Pop would likely fall in love with. He has a high basketball IQ, understands playing in fast paced situations having played at Belmont, and can score from just about anywhere on the floor. His weakness is defense, and that will be the project Pop will have to stress. If Windler is off the board (Likely GS if Cam Johnson isn’t there for them), the Spurs probably look at a Euro Stash)
#30: Pistons (Via Bucks): Romeo Langford, Indiana SG
- UPDATE: This pick now belongs to the Pistons via the Tony Snell/Jon Leuer trade. With the extra pick, the Pistons can grab one of the more talented bigs in this class at #15, and select from the surplus of wings in expected to be available in the 20-30 range. Romeo Langford has one of the higher ceilings in this class, but his stock hasn’t been as good as it probably should have been. Langford was one of the most hyped prospects heading into the NCAA season, and he just completely sunk his value with poor play. There’s a ton of talent, but he’s still young and it’s a matter of can he develop that talent. He can draw contact, and he’s an above average ball handler, but his decision making wasn’t great, averaging a pair of turnovers per game.